9/05/2008

Photo of the week - Girls in traditional national costume

Date: Around 1900
Photographer: Emil, last name hard to read
Sitter: Unknown
Provenience: Helsingborg, Sweden

The whole Nordic region got swept away with a longing for the old and the traditional in the 19th century. It was not unique for this part of the world - but some of the expressions it took on were less common in other parts of Europe. This is a good example, taking a photo dressed in traditional national costumes.

Sweden around 1900 was not a country where it was common to walk around in such dresses on an everyday basis, but there exists tons of photos with motives like this one. The reason for this was very simple - just like the photographer could offer different backgrounds in his studio (or sometimes her studio - female photographers existed, though not as common) like landscape with a fence or a window with a palm-tree he could also offer costumes. National costumes were all the rage for a while and it was very common for mostly women who were not that old to go with a sister or a good friend to take a photo in costumes they would never wear normally.

Further north in Sweden, in for example Dalarna, the habit of wearing national costumes were much more common, Helsingborg is way down south. But even there it was slowly falling out of fashion and not something that all the young people wanted to do.

This fad would die away completely by the time of the first world war and leave many family albums with a motif that is somewhat rare and perhaps even out of place for a modern viewer.

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